Feminist’s Forum: House of Cards kind of fell down

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I watched “House of Cards” in a very short time and the third season has not been out for very long so many people have probably not been able to watch either the third season or the series yet. I will try to be as spoiler free as possible. Just beware.

I’m not going to lie. I watched all of season 3 of “House of Cards” on Netflix in less than 36 hours. (If you were not aware, “House of Cards” is a Netflix original, so all episodes for the season come out at once.)

From the first episode, I was hoping I would be able to write about “House of Cards” continual female empowerment. Unfortunately, this season not only lacked in that department, but I also felt it had weak storytelling overall.

Each year when the new episodes come out, I look forward to Claire Underwood. As the wife of Frank (congressman in the first season), she is regal, classy and, most importantly, intelligent and cunning. Robin Wright plays the character with such ferocity and her acting has such ranges that it is usually so beautiful to watch. This season felt like a different story.

Wright’s acting was still top notch, don’t get me wrong. But, it felt that the writers kept setting her up to fail. It would be OK if they made her unlikable, but she never was. While Frank became more ruthless and unforgiving, Claire became morally good, fighting to save a wrongly convicted LGBT rights activist in Russia is one particularly good storyline. Still, instead of portraying her as a hero, the writers make her seem incapable, despite evidence to the contrary in the last two seasons. I felt wronged, because I wanted more Claire, but I wanted her as the successful and competent politician the writers show Frank as.

And it was not just her. In their fight to get Frank Underwood on top, the writers slight many accomplished female characters. Jackie Sharp, a new character last season and frequently portrayed as being just as cunning as Frank, was undercut by him and left with nothing. A new character, Heather Dunbar, was another powerful, seemingly morally good character who was almost portrayed as a villain to Frank.

That’s beside the point. The fact of the matter is, Claire Underwood is the co-lead of the show, and sometimes far more emotionally complex than Frank could be. This season, until maybe the last episode, seems to wrong her in an unfair way. I still loved her but, more often than not, I felt bad for her.

I will admit that it could be the writers’ plan to build Claire up next season, but I still have to wait another year, and I am not cool with that.

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